By TODD STACY and MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Command will be at north Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal, the Air Force announced Wednesday.
Alabama Daily News first reported the decision, which was later confirmed by Gov. Kay Ivey and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.
President Donald Trump established the U.S. Space Command in December 2018. According to the organization’s website, it is designed to conduct “operations in, from, and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.”
In its announcement, the Air Force said Huntsville “compared favorably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs.”
“Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed,” the statement said.
Ivey’s office said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Instillations Bob Moriarity informed state officials.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement to ADN. “Our state has long provided exceptional support for our military and their families as well as a rich and storied history when it comes to space exploration. This combination only enhances the outstanding relationships we have with the 65 diverse federal agencies on Redstone Arsenal, not to mention the growing presence of the FBI and other federal installations.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, and other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation have been advocating for Huntsville to be the permanent location of the space command, which is temporarily housed in Colorado Springs.
Shelby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the announcement was not only good for Alabama, but the Air Force.
“This long-awaited decision by the Air Force is a true testament to all that Alabama has to offer,” Shelby said. “Huntsville is the right pick for a host of reasons – our skilled workforce, proximity to supporting space entities, cost-effectiveness, and quality of life, among other things. I am thrilled that the Air Force has chosen Redstone and look forward to the vast economic impact this will have on Alabama and the benefits this will bring to the Air Force.”
Rogers, who is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has been among the top advocates in Congress for establishing a military space force.
“I applaud the decision by the Air Force to select Redstone Arsenal as the new home of the U.S. Space Command. Alabama has long been home to our nation’s premiere defense and civilian space assets,” Rogers said. “This decision by the Air Force makes sense given all the equities in Alabama. Defending our country against threats from our enemies takes a national effort. I am proud of the role Alabama plays in this overall effort.”
Rep. Mo Brooks welcomed the news that the space command would be locating in his district.
“Roughly 1,400-1,600 military and civilian personnel are expected to work at U.S. Space Command HQs. There will be untold indirect jobs added on top of that,” Brooks said. “… this victory is the culmination of hard work and leadership offered by community leaders, and federal, state and local officials who have worked over the decades to make the Tennessee Valley one of the best places in the world to live.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said securing the space command has been a priority for him in his capacity as chairman of the Aerospace States Association.
“Alabama-made rockets first launched Americans into space and later carried them safely to the moon. Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Force further solidifies Alabama as the national leader in aerospace research and development,” Ainsworth said in a statement.
This story will be updated with more reaction from state officials.